My Way Home:
Changing the System from Within
Radical solutions to build a better care system for children coming out of foster care, when they turn 18. Three municipalities have turned their methods upside down after being introduced to design-driven methods
In the concluded project My Way Home (Min Vej Hjem), we set up experiments in a handful of Danish municipalities together with the Bikuben Foundation. The aim was to build capacity into the municipalities through a controlled innovation process focusing on prototyping. All with the end goal of creating better conditions for young people formerly placed in foster care. For us at the DDC, it was also interesting to see whether introducing design methods to the social field would truly change something for the better – and leave a lasting impression for them to keep on changing their practice once the DDC left the process.
“It has been an eye opener to work with innovation in this way. To test something on a small scale in a delimited environment before releasing it in full scale”
Manager of Ungdomscenter Horsens, Horsens Municipality
The results: It’s not about finding the golden nugget – it’s about organizing for continuous change
The municipalities participated in an innovation process based on design-driven methods and input from experts. They tested potential innovations, and continued to test them until the summer of 2021.
The focus was particularly on creating lasting relationships and positive communities for the youngsters. At the same time, the effective and sustainable solutions developed for the young people should be able to be integrated into the municipalities’ local context.
- The municipalities developed prototypes for solutions that were more radical than what they could develop on their own
- The participants moved away from a focus on finding the new service that could solve all problems related to the transition from the department of children and youths to the adult department within the legal boundaries of the municipality. Instead they realized that what is needed is a shift in mindset towards a continuous learning culture
- The process helped spark change in how the Bikuben Foundation views their own role in the projects they support – from just making donations to playing a more active role
“There has been a clear strategic focus on stirring the pot before deciding anything in this process. And it has been a success! The concept we developed is not anything I or we could have reached from behind our desks.”
Head of the Youth Center, Aarhus Municipality
“At first we thought that we should ‘invent’ a new type of service or project to help lift the young person. But we became wiser. So [together with partners] we are now doing a cultural revolution instead. The hope is that these concrete experiences can create a snowball effect”
Sine Egede Eskesen
Social Director – the Bikuben Foundation
The Approach: Prototypes spark systemic change
The municipalities were taken through a specially arranged design process with an emphasis on pulling in inspiration from other fields – both national and international, sharing experiences with each other and taking the young people and their experiences as its starting point.
The aim of the process was twofold. While driving the development forward, we also built capacity into the systems of the municipalities enabling them to continue working in a design-driven way after we left them. Both in terms of training them in tools and methods but also by running workshops that challenged their way of thinking and included their end-users (the youngsters), people from other sectors and international experts. This process created change from within the very system and left an understanding of the need for a continuous learning culture in the municipalities.
The methods used in the design process were rather classic design methods but applied in an area that usually do not work with these methods.
Some of the methods were:
- Fieldwork. This was done by the municipal employees themselves – forcing them to see the young people in a different light.
- Design sprint. Run by experienced SPRINT facilitators.
- Prototyping and testing. These tools forced them to get their hands dirty by developing a tangible prototype. This helped them define a test setup that made sure to include key players in both their own organization and their end-users.
We facilitated and developed the process and the tools that the municipalities went through and used.
“I think we’re on our 4th prototype now. Every time we revise it and send it out into the real world we get valuable feedback. Working with a prototype in the conversations with the young people signals that things are changing and that helps us change things at a higher systemic level. It takes time but it helps to start with a physical manifestation.”
Jesper Due Petersen
Head of Children & Family, the Municipality of Nordfyn. One year after the development of the first prototype
About the project
The municipalities of Aarhus, Horsens and Nordfyn participated in the project.
The project ran from 2020-2021. My Way Home was funded by the Bikuben Foundation and facilitated by us.
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